• Neonatal tolerization;
  • epididymis;
  • monoclonal antibodies

ABSTRACT: Monoclonal antibodies (mabs) have been used as a powerful tool for identification of newer sperm proteins. However, conventional hybridoma technology rarely provides chance to obtain mabs to epididymal proteins. To increase this chance, we have used an alternate method of neonatal tolerization. In this protocol, animals were tolerized at birth using testicular proteins followed by immunization with cauda epididymal sperm protein (which is a cocktail of proteins both from testicular and epididymal origin). This protocol induced a specific immune response to epididymal sperm proteins. Spleen from one of these animals was then used for preparation of mabs. This fusion resulted in a number of mabs reacting specifically to epididymal proteins. Although mabs identified a protein of approximately similar molecular weight on 1-dimensional Western blot analysis, there were differences in regional localization on rat sperm as seen by indirect immunofluorescence. Immunohistochemical localization of these proteins in rat epididymis showed region specific synthesis. The synthesis of proteins was seen in the distal caput epididymis, and maximum expression was seen in supranuclear region of corpus epithelium. The proteins were localized on sperm from corpus and cauda region. Epididymis specific synthesis of the proteins and agglutinating nature of the mabs to these underlines the functional importance of these proteins in sperm maturation in epididymis. These antibodies could therefore, be used as tools for understanding the physiology of maturation of sperm in epididymis and role of the epididymal protein in fertilization.